Celtics unravel in third quarter, lose Game 4 to Wizards, 121-102

Celtics unravel in third quarter, lose Game 4 to Wizards, 121-102

WASHINGTON – The surge that has been a Washington Wizards staple at the start of games was not there in Game 4.
It was the third quarter not the first, that proved to be the Celtics’ undoing.
Washington, behind a 26-0 blitz in the third quarter, broke open a close game that ended with a 121-102 Wizards win.


John Wall led Washington with 27 points and 12 assists while his backcourt partner Bradley Beal had 29 points.

The Celtics got 19 points from Isaiah Thomas with Terry Rozier scoring 16 (although most of his points came when the game was already out of the Celtics' reach).

And with the Wizards victory, we now have a 2-2 series with Games 5 and 6 in Boston and Washington on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
For most of the first half, Boston seemed to have the game where they wanted to with a lead that peaked at 12 points before halftime.
It was in stark contrast to how things have played out in the previous three games, all of which included the Wizards going on strong runs in the first quarter which, prior to Game 4, ended with the Wizards ahead by an average of 16.3 points per game.  
But Boston got off to a much better start in Game 4.
It was the finish – specifically the third quarter – that ultimately found them on the short end of a second straight blowout loss.
With Boston ahead 53-52, Jae Crowder missed an open 3-pointer, a common problem for him and the Celtics throughout this series.
Washington scored the game’s next 24 points to take control of the game. From there, it became a matter of when not if the Wizards were going to win.
Brad Stevens’ club was down 74-53 when he called a time-out with 5:00 to play in the quarter.
By then, it was too late.
While the lead itself wasn’t an insurmountable amount that Boston could not rally from, their play suggested otherwise.
Boston couldn’t make shots, open or contested. They turned the ball over repeatedly which led to easy transition points for the Wizards.
The Celtics looked and played like a defeated team, as if they had done all they could but it wasn’t enough.
At least not on the Wizards’ home floor, for sure.
Washington’s defense forced turnovers, got out in transition and finished off plays with lay-ups, dunks and an occasional 3-point play in building a dominant lead in the third.
Trailing 90-68 going into the fourth, the Celtics had turned the ball over 15 times at that point which led to 30 points for the Wizards who not surprisingly, were blowing away Boston in several categories such as rebounding (38-23), second-chance points (18-8), points in the paint (36-22) and fast-break points (25-9).
The Celtics have shown themselves to a gritty, never-give-up kind of team all season. But they are in a predicament that’s very different than their last series which after four games, was tied at two games apiece.
In the Chicago series, Boston was returning with momentum and lots of answers to what they needed to do in order to continue winning.
But at this point, the Celtics find themselves with lots of questions and no clear-cut answers.
Avery Bradley’s defense on John Wall appears to be really taxing his body, which has led to him struggling with his shot most of this series.
And Jae Crowder seemingly can’t make a shot which is why the Wizards have successfully gambled repeatedly in leaving him open.
Thomas had a strong first half, but was among the biggest reasons for the Celtics falling behind during the 26-0 run in the third with all his turnovers trying to split Washington’s constant double-teams.
Boston still has home court advantage and because of that, they are not in a win-or-go-home stage yet.
But between now and Wednesday’s Game 5 matchup, this team has a lot of soul-searching to do if they want to extend their season beyond this series.

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

File Photo

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“[Davis] was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Pelicans

And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”